​You have heard that whole grains are good for you. But what exactly are whole grains and why are they beneficial for our health? Here’s everything you need to know about these good-for-you grains — and no, they don’t have to taste like cardboard!

What are Whole Grains?

Whole grains are seeds that retain all three of their original parts: the bran, endosperm and germ. They come in various shapes and sizes but differ from refined seeds, which have their bran and germ layers removed after the milling process.

Some examples of whole grains that can be eaten on their own include brown rice, barley, oatmeal and quinoa. These grains can also be found in a number of products, like bread, cereal and pasta. To identify wholegrain products at the supermarket, keep a lookout for the “Higher in wholegrains” Healthier Choice Symbol and “Whole Grain” or “Whole Wheat” labels. You can also check the product’s ingredient list for specific whole grains such as wheat, oats and flax seeds. 

Whole Grain vs Whole Meal — What’s the Difference?

Wholemeal refers to grains that have been milled to a finer texture. But, unlike refined grains, they have all three layers intact.  

Why You Should Eat Your Grains

Like fruit and vegetables, whole grains are a rich source of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. Studies have shown that these components work together to lower the risk of developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases and certain types of cancer.

Whole grains may also support weight management. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who consumed whole grains experienced an improvement in their metabolic rate and lost about more calories per day compared to participants who ate refined grains without much fibre. 

In spite of their benefits, whole grains are still relatively unpopular in Singapore. The 2010 National Health Survey discovered that only 27 percent of adult Singaporeans consume the recommended one serving of wholegrain products a day.

Tips on Wholesome Eating in Singapore

Adding these wholesome grains to your diet is not as difficult as you think. Here are some ways to fit in a serving size of whole grains per day:
- Half a bowl of brown rice
- Half a bowl of brown rice bee hoon or wholewheat spaghetti
- Two-thirds bowl of uncooked oats
- Two slices of wholemeal bread
- Two chapatis
- Four wholewheat biscuits

If you are not used to the flavour or texture of whole grains, you could also consider mixing brown rice with white rice when you are cooking for your family and adding low-fat milk or yoghurt to wholegrain cereals.

Starting Your Child on Whole Grains

Packed with nutrients, whole grains are as beneficial for your child as it is for you. Not only does it help to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, but it could also help to keep your child’s snacking tendencies under control. Whole grains are high in fibre, which helps your child to stay satisfied longer. This may decrease the likelihood of him overloading on unhealthy snacks throughout the day.

Unsure about the amount of whole grains your child should be eating? Here’s a cheat sheet.

Recommended Servings of Rice and Alternatives Per Day
Recommended Servings of Whole Grains Per Day
​7-12 months
​1-2 years old
​3-6 years old
​7-12 years old
​13-18 years old

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